‘Threat assessment teams’ at NJ schools will identify ‘students of concern’
Garden State schools are working to get in line with a relatively new state law that officially takes effect in the fall of 2023.
By the start of the next academic year, every school needs to have a "threat assessment team" in place.
The multidisciplinary team will be charged with "identifying students of concern" and coming up with ways to address the student's needs and mitigate risk for future "targeted violence" at school.
The law was signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in August. Since the start of the 2022-2023 academic year, the New Jersey Department of Education has been offering virtual training sessions to school officials, on threat assessment and management. Nine more sessions are scheduled through July.
At least 138 schools across 72 districts in Bergen County have been trained on the topic already, by CarePlus NJ's Stop School Violence Program.
"Whenever I start my trainings, I say we are not trying to train you on how to identify the next perpetrator of violence," Ashley Morolla, manager of the program, told New Jersey 101.5. "It's really meant to identify any student that needs assistance or support, at any level — hopefully at the beginning."
According to Morolla, many schools in New Jersey have processes in place related to threat assessment — but they don't have them down on paper.
"The idea is to really have that standardized approach," she said. "So when a child is in elementary school, they can expect the same type of support and treatment when they go to middle school and when they go to high school."
The law applies to public, charter and renaissance schools. It urges school districts to fill teams with: a school psychologist or counselor; a teacher; an administrator; and safety personnel.